"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Thursday, April 21, 2005

The Inconsistency of Consistency

The University held a luncheon today for those of us who have been working here between 25 and 35 years as faculty and staff. That is a really long time! That's like, three apartments, two homes, five cars, two roommates and (don't want to even think about) how many Pop-Tarts for breakfast. Then there is all the hours spent behind the wheel of those various five cars in commuting, how many stupid drivers I have yelled at, how many thousands of dollars in gasoline, four flat tires on the expressway, two breakdowns for either transmission or waterpumps, several (ahem) speeding tickets, and one major wreck. It seems that even though I was coming to the same place every day and going home every day, that there was always something different happening.

But, quite a few things haven't changed. There is still the guy walking around town with the long red prom dress, makeup, wig and lots of bling, the same lady pushing the same grocery cart with all her belongs and her little boston bull terrier on a leash keeping her company, the same park and fountains where I've had many a lunch enjoying just being outside, listening to the music in the park and escaping my desk/cubicle/office/window/no window....depending on where I was working at that time. The University has mushroomed in growth and diversity in these years and is now one of the nation's leading research Universities. But, many of the buildings are the same as they have always been; the insides have been restructured, but the facades look like they have for many years. The student body has grown to almost 30,000 now, but they still wear ripped jeans, shorts, t-shirts with logos and flip-flops in the summer (and the really dumb ones still wear the shorts and flip-flops in the winter, too). Their faces still reflect the same hope and anticipation of a future for which they are preparing.

I have changed in some ways, yet in others, I am still the same guy who came to work here on the first day wearing khaki pants, a brown striped shirt and tie....eating lunch at Burger King by myself because I didn't know anyone yet and feeling totally overwhelmed at having a "real job" and being an adult. My weight has varied, but is about the same, my hair is a little grayer and not quite as thick, but it is still basically the same brown hair and I still wear khaki pants day in and day out.

However, my faith in Christ has grown by leaps and bounds. I have felt His presence in tough meetings where my integrity was being questioned (and He helped me to hold my tongue), He has led me through the dark days of stress and pressure of dealing with tight deadlines and projects without losing my cool so they were finished on time or early, I have known He was by my side when I would talk with a co-worker about their own faith (or lack of faith), when they were going through a divorce or death in the family or when their children were giving them problems and they needed a listening ear. Christ was in my car every day and I could pour out my joys and my worries and cry the whole way home if I needed it. Many of the most worshipful times I have had are in my car with a Praise & Worship CD playing and just me and God chatting.....well, I tend to chat, God usually tends to answer me more to the point.....but, He was there and I felt Him.

I guess my point on looking back and looking forward today is that I have been consistently working at the same place for many years, yet with many different things happening. But, one constant throughout all these years is that God was always there when I needed Him. And spending all these years in a secular workplace has given me a new perspective on God, on reaching people where they are and on evangelism that I never had during the time I spent in the full-time Ministry. I have often thought how effective it may be for our Ministers in churches to have to spend a season working in the secular world every number of years so that they can stay in touch with what we 'average joes' are facing. We are promised that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow." (Hebrews 13:8). I have learned how true that statement is.

Jobs change, nations change, circumstances change, lives change, people change, but God will never change. This University has been a good place for me in providing finances, benefits, education and good friends; however, most of all it has taught me more about God's practical presence in my life than I may have learned about 26 years in Sunday School. That is reward enough for me.

Congratulations to me! (sorry, everybody needs a little self-adoration occasionally).

Be God's,


At 4:18 PM, Anonymous Squiggler said...

You sound like a great guy. Enjoyed reading your thoughts.


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